Love is in the air for couples and for the whole family

With jasmine and frangipani blossoms heavy in the air, this March full moon in Phuket is different. Far from the crowds and all-night parties of Patong and Karon Beach, there are two very different areas of Phuket to fall in love again with life.

Love is in the air for couples and for the whole family

When the limo collection at Phuket International Airport has John Paul Young’s Love is in the Air playing as you are transported from the airport 45-minutes into the hills of Thalang Choeng Thale, above Layan Beach, you know your stay at the adults-only Pavilions Phuket will be a special one. On entering the main gates, transport to your private pool villa is either by funicular or by golf buggies that quietly whizz up the steep hills and down. Set like a crown on top of the hill, Pavilions Phuket is one of the few resorts where you can enjoy watching the sun rise and then set again, an especially spectacular site as it dips into the Andaman Sea while enjoying cocktails and pan-Asian tapas at the accurately named 360° bar.

Upscale accommodations are elegant – an eclectic and contemporary mix of Asian cultures with a few traditional Thai elements. Interiors are in sexy reds and deep lacquered black hues and these villas are among the largest on the island. It is hard to imagine there might be villas even larger than our 275m² with 10m x 3.5m infinity pool and fabulous outdoor Thai Sala complete with white muslin curtains flowing in the tropical breeze.

If you’re among the guests who enjoy daily spa treatments, selecting the Pool and Spa Villas is the best thing to do. At Pavilions, the spa therapists come to you and set up your own, exclusive double spa suite, complete with sauna and steam room which you access from a lockable door in your living room. For me, this facility represents the ultimate in luxury. The three-bedroomed villa is a whopping 595m² on two floors while the Ocean View Pool Villa has a wraparound pool to be stepped into directly from your bedroom if you’d like to.

Love is in the air for couples and for the whole family

Private luxury

With all this private luxury around we were tempted to simply enjoy the facilities and not venture out but we were glad we took the four-times-daily shuttle to Layan Beach which is the sort of unspoiled beach you dream of going to. Although the hotel delivers you to the beach with plush beach mattresses and towels, reclining chairs and palm tree umbrellas are inexpensive to rent. We also enjoyed the food options on the beach. There is a regular drop off at an upscale shopping village which includes an international supermarket.

The cuisine was a highlight at Pavilions. An abundance of high-flavoured and fresh local ingredients means even breakfast at The Plantation Club restaurant is a must-do cuisine experience. When you want the exclusive and romantic privacy of an adults-only retreat, Pavilions is it.

Affordable self-catering for the family

If you’re visiting Phuket with your family it is still best to avoid the more crowded areas. We selected Dewa Nai Yang Resort because of its five-minute proximity to the airport and position in the Sirinath National Park on the northwest coast. You can walk from Dewa to the beach in a few steps or take any of the bicycles to explore nearby markets including an authentic weekend market selling everything from jeans to freshly caught calamari.

Love is in the air for couples and for the whole family

Our accommodation in The Residence, a self-catering wing of Dewa, is ideally suited to a family travelling together, yet with all the comforts you’d expect from a resort along with the flexibility of preparing your own food. There is a well-equipped kitchen with electric hob, microwave, and large fridge. There is a wide range of room types, including walled Pool Villas if you’d rather not self-cater.

There are free daily shuttles into Central, about 30 minutes away, a massive shopping mall, and to the famous Thalang Road of the Old City with its Sino-Portuguese mansions and shophouses. They will also deliver you to Patong if you’re after the much written about Phuket nightlife.

Breakfast buffet to sustain you for the whole day

There are a spa and gym at Dewa along with a Kids Club. The Residence has its own pool but all Dewa guests can enjoy all the facilities. Breakfast includes a la carte options as well as a buffet selection of Thai and Oriental favourites along with cheeses, cold cuts and pastries favoured by the Western palate. The Bread & Butter bakery and coffee shop on the site serves standout coffee. There is also a Wine & Cheese shop. The Terrace Grill, where breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served and adjacent Bamboo Bar overlook the pool and onwards to the beach.

For guests in self-catering suites, there is a grocery delivery service from the Tesco Lotus supermarket if you’d rather not shop yourself. It is well stocked, albeit difficult to navigate on account of all the product labels being in Thai. A 7-Eleven mini mart is about a 10-minute walk away.

Wherever you base yourself in Phuket, you will experience the Thai hospitality as palpably as the balmy equatorial climate. Sea conditions are very changeable as Phuket transitions into the rainy season from May and while daily, cooling downpours should be expected in the wet season, much of the day can be dry and inviting. Experiencing the Andaman Sea flat and clear as glass during our visit, it is hard to think how it might change.